I was referring last night to our experience of the working of the Undeveloped Areas Act. I had been dealing with certain criticisms that had been offered to the House. One could not complain too much of these criticisms. They seemed to be quite constructive. It is not true, of course, to say, that the Act has been a failure. It has not been a success to the degree we would have wished. Taking the County of Galway, without having official information as to the full extent of the help granted or in process of being granted, I am aware of four new industries which have come into existence as a result of the Act. I know that the extension of another one is being finalised at the present time. I am also aware of a further new industry which I feel confident is on the way. It is one of considerable importance.
My disappointment in the matter is in respect of Galway City, which is the largest urban area west of the Shannon and one in which the circumstances are such that one would have expected greater progress than has, in fact, materialised. I have been informed by people who are closely associated with industry that those who have money are still unwilling to hazard it in industrial enterprises particularly in the undeveloped areas, even with the assistance which is offered by the Act.
I read quite recently in the paper about an industry proposed for Sligo. I wish to congratulate the people of Sligo town on having made progress in getting a spinning industry. I understand that An Foras Tionscal has been quite generous in its help but that there is difficulty being experienced in raising £50,000 locally in Sligo. That experience, I think, has also been met with elsewhere. It is one thing to criticise the administration of the Act and to find fault with it. It is another to offer suggestions for its improvement in the light of the drawbacks and shortcomings which have shown up. I would suggest to the Minister that he would contemplate examining the desirability of amalgamating the bodies set up under the Undeveloped Areas Act and the Industrial Development Authority.
If, as has been stated by various speakers, it is comparatively easy to get industries in the vicinity of Dublin or along the east coast it seems to me that the Industrial Development Authority should not be required—in fact, should not be allowed—to direct its inquiries and activities for the promotion of industries in areas that are sufficiently well industrialised already and which, in fact, have shown that there is sufficient industrial momentum to allow industrial progress to proceed under its own steam. The activities heretofore scattered all over the whole country should be channelled in conjunction with the efforts of An Foras Tionscal to develop the areas which are under-developed.
That is decentralisation of the most important kind possible—decentralisation of industry. I hope that the Minister's attitude in relation to industrial decentralisation is not in any way comparable to that expressed by a colleague of his in relation to departmental decentralisation. The Minister, I am sure, knows that the previous Government was examining the possibility of removing certain departmental offices to areas away from Dublin. We were disappointed to note, since the change of Government, that, while decentralisation has not been unconditionally thrown overboard, it has been so qualified as to have been scrapped.
I think it was the Attorney-General who said at a Fine Gael conference in Sligo last September or October that in their view decentralisation did not mean the transference of civil servants from Dublin to provincial towns but that it did mean the enlarging of the powers of local authorities so that they would carry out duties that are now being performed by civil servants in Dublin. The implication was, if, in fact, he did not make a positive statement, to the effect that the City and County Management Act was going, in fact, to provide these extra powers. We know, of course, that that has not happened and that the Management Act is giving no extra powers of the kind referred to by the Attorney-General.
That, possibly, is not a matter for which the Minister is responsible, but in so far as decentralisation in general comes under the Minister's administration, perhaps, the remarks are not entirely irrelevant. I wish to express to the Minister the desire which I think is felt on all sides of the House, that the efforts of An Foras Tionscal to decentralise and to induce industries to the areas where industrialists are unwilling to go for various reasons should be intensified. The Minister has amalgamated the authorities dealing with tourism. I suggest that he might now carry out a further amalgamation in relation to the activities of these other two authorities, and that the representatives of the undeveloped areas can make a sustainable claim that all these governmental activities for the expansion of industry would from now on be diverted to these undeveloped areas.
It is also disappointing that at least one Minister has expressed complacence with regard to emigration. We have been criticised and pilloried very severely here because we did not succeed as a Government in eliminating emigration but in any event we did not attempt to make a virtue of the evil by glossing it over and saying that Irish men and women had always emigrated and that emigration had conferred enormous spiritual good on people who otherwise would never have had the benefit of the preaching of the Gospel.
The Minister deserves some criticism for the manner in which the projected establishment of an oil refinery has been allowed to be kicked around like a football from one port to another on the three coasts. The Minister made the announcement of the project at an inland town but since the announcement was made and after a large number of representatives of various ports had got together to formulate a claim, each group in respect of its own port, we have seen a statement published in a Labour journal which indicated that the Minister had no say whatsoever in the decision to establish an oil refinery in this country or as to its location.
If that is the case, the Minister has set a whole lot of well-meaning people in various ports around the coast on a wild goose chase. He may have a genuine explanation and, if he has, he ought to give it to them because they have all been chasing after what they regard as this industrial plum and now it seems that authorities over which the Minister has no control and very little influence have the final say in deciding the matter.
A member of this House who supports the Minister made a statement at a Galway meeting to the effect that we might ignore the major project of an oil refinery and concentrate on the subsidiaries. I do not know exactly what inside information the particular Deputy had in relation to the matter but it would be well for the Minister to make an early statement. If the authorities who are setting up this oil refinery have in fact communicated to him where this refinery is to be, he should publish that information and stop this wild goose chase that has been going on all over the country.
We know from previous efforts in relation to the establishment of an oil refinery that our national authorities have not the effective say in it. When the Minister's predecessor, pre-war, wanted to have something of the sort the people who control the oil supplies decided otherwise and that finished it. Now, apparently, they have decided that there should be an oil refinery in Ireland. If the change of mind on the part of the oil magnates has anything to do with strategy in relation to another world war then I think the Minister might exert some influence from that point of view and insist that he be informed from time to time of any new decisions.
I hope the Minister will make a definite statement as to the location of this industry and, in addition, indicate what subsidiaries will arise from it and how far these ancillary industries may be distributed at various ports other than the port at which the main oil refinery will be located so that the various organised groups in the various ports can direct their efforts to these lesser objectives. Perhaps there will be more of these consolation prizes to be won and that more people can be satisfied than it is possible to satisfy in relation to the main project.
Galway can make a good claim for one of these subsidiaries. We have a considerable number of unemployed in the City of Galway. We have one of the best sea approaches in the country. We have a port that is freer from fog than most ports in the country, and we are in a central position on the west coast with good land communication. I suggest to the Minister that, if he is serious about checking emigration and if private enterprise is not rising to his expectations in providing the employment to check it, he will do what he can in relation to what I may refer to as this State project to ensure that at least some of these potential emigrants will be given an opportunity to stay at home in Ireland.
I wonder would the Minister give us an explanation of the reduction in the amount provided for mineral development from £74,000 to £40,000. Our country is not outstanding for mineral deposits but that is all the more reason why we should not relax our efforts to ascertain the extent of valuable mineral deposits. I am interested in one very important mineral in my constituency—molybdenite. Exploration work has been going on there for some considerable time and I will give an opportunity to the Minister, by way of parliamentary question, to say exactly how far it has progressed. In any event, I think that the reduction, while it is small in relation to the total Vote provided for the Department, is very large in relation to the particular service for which it is provided, namely, mineral development. The reduction is practically 50 per cent.
There is another matter which I think requires some explanation. It is a matter somewhat similar to one raised by the Leader of the Opposition about moneys provided for the Department of Agriculture. It has to do with the provision for technical assistance. I notice there has been a reduction from £83,568 to £42,000. Surely a reduction in technical assistance requires close examination.